The Los Angeles Lakers’ third preseason game was a showcase for the team’s younger talent as LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, Anthony Davis, Patrick Beverley and Kendrick Nunn all sat out. But it also served as a debut for one of the team’s most important offseason additions in guard Lonnie Walker IV.
Walker was given the Lakers’ entire taxpayer mid-level exception this offseason but unfortunately came into camp with a minor ankle sprain causing him to miss a couple of days of practice. Walker was solid in his first game in purple and gold, finishing with 10 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 blocks. He discussed how he felt physically after the game.
“I think I did OK,” Walker said following the Lakers’ 114-99 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves. “There’s obviously a lot of room for improvement as far as getting that conditioning back in, getting that rhythm with the team, getting my legs up under me. Felt like I was running around with some Timbs on.
“I was just excited to be back all in all, just to put that purple and gold on my chest it’s a different type of feeling. Taking it day-by-day, it’s preseason, learning, I’m gonna watch film. I’m gonna just see what I can improve on as a player.”
That conditioning showed by way of his shooting as Walker hit just 4-of-13 shots on the evening including just 1-of-7 from 3-point range. Though his deep shooting took a dip last year, Walker shot over 35% from 3 in each of his first three seasons in the league and he definitely expects a return to form with the Lakers.
That ankle injury to start camp was a minor setback and Walker will continue to ramp things up as training camp goes on.
“I came into camp dealing with this,” Walker added. “Sprained it probably a couple days before, or a week or so. Just taking it day by day, seeing how it feels. The more and more my ankle got stronger we started doing more on-court stuff. But at the end of the day there’s nothing like conditioning, real game. Felt good, just gotta continue to get stronger.”
The question now for Walker is where does he fit within coach Darvin Ham’s rotation. The Lakers have a crowded backcourt and Dennis Schroder still has yet to join the team due to a visa issue. But if Walker can continue to show off his ability to get buckets, while being solid on defense, Ham will have to find a spot for him in this Lakers’ rotation.
Schroder set to join Lakers this weekend after handling visa issue
Speaking of which, Schroder has finally figured out his visa issue and is set to join the Lakers this weekend. While last season wasn’t his best, Schroder shined in the EuroBasket tournament, averaging 22.1 points and 7.1 assists while leading his native Germany to a bronze medal finish.
While Schroder will have some catching up to do, he is helped by the fact that he was playing competitive basketball during the offseason so his conditioning should be up to par. Additionally, he is extremely familiar with Darvin Ham as the two spent six years together with the Atlanta Hawks where Ham served as an assistant coach under Mike Budenholzer.
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